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Rebel Without A Cause

Rebel Without A Cause

By Patrick Samuel • February 8th, 2015
Static Mass Rating: 5/5
Warner Brothers

Original release: October 27th, 1955
Running time: 111 minutes

Director: Nicholas Ray
Writers: Stewart Stern, Irving Shulman, Nicholas Ray

Cast: James Dean, Natalie Wood, Sal Mineo, Jim Backus, Dennis Hopper, Edward Platt

Rebel Without A Cause

On October 27th 1955, Warner Brothers released a movie that would change cinema forever and influence generations to come. As iconic today as it was all those years ago, the influence of Rebel Without A cause can still be felt.

When Jim Stark (James Dean) moves to a new neighbourhood with his parents for a fresh start, he catches the attention of his next door neighbour Judy (Natalie Wood) and young misfit Plato (Sal Mineo). While Judy is too cool for Jim to hang with, Plato on the other hand wants to be best friends. The young boy follows him around but doesn’t have any friends of his own.

The school bullies, led by Buzz (Corey Allen), give Plato a hard time, but when he spots Jim he sees someone who can provide a few kicks and challenges him to a chickie run later that night. Jim however isn’t too keen on the idea, but when Buzz asks if he’s chicken, it enrages him to the point where there’s no backing out. The chickie run ends with Buzz’s death and Jim is crowned chicken because he was first to leap out of his speeding car. Judy, who is also Buzz’s girlfriend, is there.

Back at home, Jim tries to tell his parents what happened, but his father fails to back him up and his mother doesn’t listen to a word he’s saying. He storms out of the house and ends up going with Judy and Plato to an abandoned mansion in the hills.

Away from the meddling and yelling parents, the trio play games in the candlelight and pretend to be a family. Jim and Judy watch over Plato while he sleeps before sneaking away for some time alone together, but Buzz’s friends soon find them and it isn’t long before the meddling adults make matters worse again.

Rebel Without A Cause

The movie also plays host to another theme; closet homosexuality. The character of Plato harbours desires he doesn’t quite understand yet and is reaching for a father figure. His desire for Jim as a paternal figure is also mixed with his subconscious desire for him as a partner he can love and be accepted by.

Plato’s feelings manifest as a shy schoolgirl’s crush on a boy at school. He imagines he’s known Jim for longer than he has. His fear of being left alone is what makes him panic when he wakes, not finding Jim and Judy, but instead Buzz’s friends.

By the time Rebel Without A Cause began shooting in March 1955, Dean was already creating a buzz around Hollywood, having set screens alight with his blazing performance in Elia Kazan’s East Of Eden (1955). He’d already been a face on television in many minor roles, and had conquered Broadway with his mesmerizing performance in the Immoralist as the enticing Arab boy who seduces a married man. He was an actor on the rise and climbing fast.

Having first seen Rebel Without A Cause as a teenager back in the early 1990’s, it was a film I instantly connected with. I still remember that night, having snuck out to a friend’s house and watching it together on a black and white television. Rebel Without A CauseIt seemed somehow appropriate, and I knew I would later have to face an argument at home, similar to Jim’s with his parents.

From that night onwards, James Dean, Jim Stark and Rebel Without A Cause were firmly cemented in my life. There wasn’t any other film I saw during my turbulent teenage years that spoke to me the way this one did. Perhaps it was the sensitive way the story was told, focusing on the alienation its young characters felt and how distant they were from the authoritarians. Maybe it was also the combination of the extraordinary performances by Mineo, Wood and Dean.

The scene where Jim finally explodes in anger at his parents and screams “You’re tearing me apart!” and follows it up with, “Stop tearing me apart! You say one thing and he says another and then everybody changes back” – it was really like a typical moment at home and I realised, maybe it wasn’t just my home these arguments took place in. Maybe I was normal after all.

Rebel Without A Cause

Patrick Samuel

Patrick Samuel

The founder of Static Mass Emporium and one of its Editors in Chief is an emerging artist with a philosophy degree, working primarily with pastels and graphite pencils, but he also enjoys experimenting with water colours, acrylics, glass and oil paints.

Being on the autistic spectrum with Asperger’s Syndrome, he is stimulated by bold, contrasting colours, intricate details, multiple textures, and varying shades of light and dark. Patrick's work extends to sound and video, and when not drawing or painting, he can be found working on projects he shares online with his followers.

Patrick returned to drawing and painting after a prolonged break in December 2016 as part of his daily art therapy, and is now making the transition to being a full-time artist. As a spokesperson for autism awareness, he also gives talks and presentations on the benefits of creative therapy.

Static Mass is where he lives his passion for film and writing about it. A fan of film classics, documentaries and science fiction, Patrick prefers films with an impeccable way of storytelling that reflect on the human condition.

Patrick Samuel ¦ Asperger Artist

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